Chelsea strikers Michy Bashuayi and Álvaro Morata (technically still a Chelsea player) both made their debuts for their new loan teams this weekend after finalizing moves late in the January transfer window — in Michy’s case, it was literally just minutes before the deadline passed at 11pm on Thursday that his paperwork was submitted and he wasn’t actually announced until well after.
Michy’s debut for Crystal Palace was just as rushed, coming after only a few hours of training with his new teammates. Nevertheless, Batshuayi managed to make an impact in his 10 minutes as a second-half substitute, bamboozling the Fulham defense (which, in fairness, many many many players have done this season) and setting up Palace’s second goal, which made sure of all three key points in the relegation battle.
Batshuayi didn’t really do much else in his limited cameo (4 touches but 2 shots!), but it’s a promising start to what could be a very important few months in his career. With international teammate Christian Benteke back from his four-month injury layoff as well, there will be plenty of competition for minutes at Selhurst Park, but Michy of course is full of positivity.
“I’m going to bring as much as I can to help the team win and get some game time to be at my best. (The win over Fulham was) very important. It’s good for the team and for me. I feel good but I need to train with the team so to have the whole team together will be something that’s good. I spent one day (with them) before training and with the coach.”
-Michy Batshuayi; source: Mail
Meanwhile, in Spain, Morata started in place of the injured Diego Costa, but brought nothing but bad luck for his new team, who lost for the first time in five months in the league (and first time in 20 games in all competitions). Atlético were shut out away to Real Betis, with Morata’s one big chance getting saved by Pau López and his penalty claim getting waved away. He did win a few aerial battles, which was nice to see.
Atlético coach Diego Simeone kept things positive after the rare defeat, which opened a six-point gap to league leaders Barcelona (who were held to a draw by Valencia this weekend) and brought Real Madrid to within two points of their in-city rivals.
“Morata played very well, with great enthusiasm. We hope he can score soon. We have to stay calm and keep working.”
-Diego Simeone; source: Atlético Madrid
Well, good luck in all that. (Diego Costa has been out for the past two months after surgery on a foot problem that had been limiting him all season, and it’s still not clear when he will be back in action.)
BONUS UPDATE: Tammy Abraham was kept off the scoresheet this weekend for just the fourth time in 14 games as Aston Villa drew 0-0 at Reading. The Championship’s leading scorer still has 15 goals in those 14 games.